Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin says his team must take advantage of their victory over title-chasing Arsenal by following that up with another Premier League win against Watford at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Louis van Gaal’s injury-hit squad recorded a morale-boosting 3-2 win on Sunday, with 18-year-old striker Marcus Rashford netting twice on his league debut and Ander Herrera also on target.
The result rekindled hopes of a late-season charge to finish in the top four, with United now sitting within three points of Manchester City, having played one match more.
Schneiderlin acknowledges that United have underperformed this term, but says the players are eager to put it right prior to the end of the campaign and take advantage of any slip-ups from sides in the Champions League places.
“It was just a question of fighting, playing for the fans and playing for the badge, because the results are not what we expected over the last few months,” he told MUTV.
“Everyone knew when they saw the team-sheet that we have a very young team. So we knew that we had to be at our best and be very aggressive.
“There are a lot of points to take, but football is very quick so we now need to make sure that we win against Watford. We have seen this season all the teams above slip up and all the teams have some bad results. So it is up to us to exploit that.
“We had a big discussion a few weeks ago, saying the results were not what we expect, but also that it is not only about us. It is about the whole town, about the whole football club. So we need to make sure we place Manchester United in the right place.”
Visiting Watford drew 0-0 at home to AFC Bournemouth on Saturday and have only lost once in their last five to sit comfortably in 10th position on 37 points.
They have failed to score in five of their last seven league games, though, and have lost all of their last 10 meetings with United in all competitions, including the 2-1 reverse at Vicarage Road in November.
Captain Troy Deeney said: “Bournemouth was one of those games where both teams could have stayed out all day and not scored. We will take the draw, thankfully we didn’t lose and we will move on to Man United on Wednesday.
“We have got to be realistic, yes we didn’t score, but we didn’t lose and it’s another clean sheet. We will take the positives from it and will have to up our game come Wednesday night.
“There is no time to be reflecting on things, we have got Man United away and if we beat them it turns into a great week with four points from two games.”
Anthony Martial (hamstring) and Chris Smalling (shoulder) did not make the Arsenal game, in which Marcos Rojo suffered what Van Gaal described as “a kick”, with all three players to be assessed ahead of the game.
Quique Sanchez Flores is set to talk with ever-present midfielder Etienne Capoue prior to the match with a view to resting him after he was taken off against Bournemouth, while Jose Manuel Jurado (calf) is still expected to be out.
Key Opta stats:
– Watford already have more points away from home this season (18) than they managed in their two previous Premier League campaigns put together (15).
– Odion Ighalo has scored just one goal in eight Premier League appearances so far in 2016, despite attempting 21 shots (inc. blocked).
– Marcus Rashford has scored four goals from five shots on target in his Manchester United first team career so far.
– Manchester United have used a league-high 33 players in the opening 27 matchdays of the Premier League this season.
– In fact, Manchester United have never used more players in a single Premier League season – they used the same number in 2014-15 and 2008-09 (33).
– Only Manchester United (5) have drawn more Premier League games 0-0 this season than Watford (4).